South Africa has invited scientists from fellow BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – to work alongside its scientists to further research various characteristics of the Covid-19 virus and its mutations.
The invitation extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa comes just weeks after scientists in South Africa detected a new Covid-19 variant that has since been named “Omicron”.
“This initiative is a contribution to intra-BRICS cooperation to strengthen preparedness and responses to the pandemic as articulated in the New Delhi Declaration, which was adopted at the 13th BRICS Summit in September 2021,” explained the Presidency on Friday.
“This cooperation takes place within the context of the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre in a virtual format.”
Ramaphosa has appointed the Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Covid-19, Prof Koleka Mlisana, to lead a task team of South African researchers in the area of genomic sequencing to work with their counterparts from other BRICS countries.
Scientists from the BRICS countries will be supported by officials from the departments of health and higher education, science, and innovation.
South Africa is the host of the BRICS Vaccine Research Centre and the research on the Omicron variant will form part of the centre’s initiatives.
The international team will exchange and share information on laboratory, clinical and epidemiological experiences regarding the virus in order to help clinicians and policymakers in BRICS countries better prepare for future manifestations of the disease.
Ramaphosa said: “Humanity will only overcome this pandemic if the countries of the world work in closer cooperation by sharing information, expertise, and resources.
“This cooperation must be underpinned by the principles of solidarity, partnership, and mutual respect.
“The spread of the different Covid-19 variants to all corners of the earth underlines the importance of effective surveillance, scientific transparency, and collaborative research.”
Ramaphosa said every country was affected and every country must be able to develop responses based on sound scientific evidence.
“The collaboration among BRICS countries is intended to broaden our knowledge of the Covid-19 virus not only for the benefit of member countries but for the global community more broadly,” said the President.